Dr Ejike Oji, the Chairman of the Technical Management Committee of the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) says myths and misconceptions around modern contraceptives prevent women from commencing or continuing the use of family planning methods in Nigeria.
Family planning is the act of regulating a man or a woman’s ability to impregnate or become pregnant through the use of some commodities or devices.
It is the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children, as well as the spacing and timing of
their births, achieved through the use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.
There are different types of contraceptives, namely the long-acting reversible contraception such as the implant or Intra Uterine Device (IUD), hormonal contraception such the pill or the Depo Provera injection, and the barrier method such as the male and female condoms.
There is also the emergency contraception, fertility awareness or the permanent contraception such as vasectomy and tubal ligation.
Oji, however, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that the myths and misconceptions about the side effects of the different child spacing methods were major challenges affecting the advancement of family planning, noting that some organisations used behaviour change communication to address the problem.
The other impediments, he said, were the lack of programmes and policies on family planning at the sub-national level.
He added that “everybody keeps talking about Federal Government activities, not thinking about contributions from state governments.
“The state governments also have a responsibility to the people; they must wake up and put money into family planning and train service providers, as Federal Government has been providing the commodities and cannot do it all alone.
“More than 20 per cent of women want family planning services but the problem is service failure and service delivery and the issue of sub-national attitude toward the issue.”
Oji, who is also the Chairman, Local Organising Committee of the ongoing 6th Nigeria Family Planning Conference which opened on Dec. 7 till Dec. 11 in Abuja, said that the conference focused on addressing some of the myths around family planning.
The conference, with “Post 2020 Agenda and Safeguarding Investment in Emergencies, Adaption, Innovation, Resilience” as the theme for 2020, had different sessions with religious, women and youths for an all-inclusive meeting.
“The reason is that the people who will form our population are already born. We need to teach them to manage their fertility,” he said.
The AAFP chairman also said that religion was one of the barriers to the advancement of family planning in the country, saying “some clerics got it wrong.
“The Holy books did not just say we should go and procreate, we should be able to cater for the number of children we want to have.
“What we do as an association, therefore, is to include religious leaders in interfaith forum.
“We are making a lot of progress, a Christian perspective and Muslim perspective have been developed in terms of family planning for the major two religions.”
Oji also thanked donors for supporting family planning programmes in Nigeria, saying “donors have been wonderful but they are teaching us to be self-sustainable too; we are grateful to them.
“We can also say that government has been trying, it is doing its best to increase funding but we want more.
“For instance, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, is focused on family planning, so also the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, making sure that money is released.
“We want to say that they can do more, doing more is at sub-national level; the champions we are already seeing are Kano and Kaduna governors, who are already doing much.
“Last year, Kano State governor allocated N100 million for family planning and the state promised to put money to complement the efforts of Federal Government.
“Lagos State Government is also focusing on family planning service delivery expansion.”